Does Starbucks Accept SNAP or EBT Benefits?
This information is current as of July 3, 2022.
Coffee. The word alone makes you think of that cup of fresh brew, and there is nothing like it. Like the Brits love their tea, Americans love their coffee!
It’s truly a part of everyday life in America, whether you like it hot, cold, or blended into a delicious concoction.
The U.S. has coffee chains that we are all familiar with, some more east coast and some more west coast. But Starbucks is a name that resonates with almost all of us. And the coffee giant seems to be everywhere, from bookstores, to rest stops and your local downtown.
So, what about those with SNAP or EBT Benefits? Does Starbucks accept Food Stamps, SNAP or EBT towards the purchase of their goodies?
The answer is yes and no, depending on whether Starbucks is a stand-alone or licensed store.
In this article, we’ll go into more depth about the answer and explain the difference between the two operations and which locations accept SNAP, EBT, or Food Stamps.
A Few Things About Starbucks
Starbucks, headquartered in Seattle, Washington, is the largest coffee shop in the world. The U.S. has more than 16,000 stores, with roughly 9,000 being company-operated and over 6,000 licensed shops.
The menu at Starbucks goes way beyond your average cup of coffee. They serve hot and cold beverages, breakfast foods, bakery items, and a host of Frappuccino-type drinks.
Does Starbucks Accept SNAP EBT?
This is where it gets a little complicated. Often, grocery stores such as Target or Publix have a Starbucks in the store. If you visit a Starbucks at these retailers, you can use your EBT benefit card. Because the shop is inside a grocery store, it acts like any other item you purchase.
Any corporate or stand-alone store will not accept SNAP or EBT benefits. Starbucks is seen as a luxury, not something essential, which does not make them a SNAP retailer.
Your EBT benefit card is not authorized to purchase hot and prepared foods at licensed and stand-alone stores.
What is the Difference Between a Stand-Alone and Licensed Facility?
Starbucks will only accept SNAP/EBT benefits at some licensed stores, but what is the difference between licensed and stand-alone stores?
Stand-Alone or Company Operated Starbucks
A stand-alone or company-operated Starbucks is one that you would see by itself in a shopping mall or another plaza. They are usually bigger and have a higher gross margin and a lower operating margin than a licensed store.
However, employees are trained the same and must follow the same policies and procedures at both types of stores. Because Starbucks is not seen as a retailer that carries essential foods, the company is not an approved SNAP EBT retailer.
Per the company’s website, they state:
“Starbucks, as policy, does not accept food stamp cards for payment at its company-operated stores. However, some of our licensees, particularly those within grocery stores, may accept these for payment.”
Also known as a noncorporate operation, licensed Starbucks are the smaller restaurants or kiosks in grocery stores or other facilities. Retailers like Publix, Safeway, Target, Barnes & Noble, and other local grocery stores with a Starbucks inside the building as part of a business contract.
All the logos and the appearance of the coffee shop will look like stand-alone stores. If these stores accept SNAP EBT benefits, then the licensed Starbucks in the store can also take benefits.
Starbucks is not part of the Restaurant Meals Program. You cannot use your EBT card to purchase hot, prepared food and drinks at any location, even licensed stores.
However, even though hot food and drinks are not eligible, all cold drinks are. You can also buy sweets, sandwiches, snacks, soft drinks, and energy drinks with your SNAP EBT card.
How Do I Use My SNAP/EBT Benefits at Starbucks?
For the most part, you will find that coffee, instant coffee, coffee beans, ground coffee, creamer, snacks, and different types of bread are eligible.
When paying for your purchase, simply swipe your card as you normally would and choose SNAP EBT as the payment. You’ll then be asked to enter your personal PIN number.
What Is the Restaurant Meals Program?
The Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) is a state-run program that allows some SNAP clients to buy prepared meals at restaurants using their EBT benefits cards.
To qualify, you must be 60 years or older, disabled, and receive disability benefits, or the spouse of a SNAP client eligible for RMP.
For restaurants to participate in the program, they must be in a state with a restaurant meals program. They must also get approval from the said state and be authorized by FNS to accept SNAP EBT benefits.
What Can I Buy With SNAP EBT Benefits?
With SNAP benefits, you can purchase most staple foods, including veggies, fruits, poultry, meat, fish, bread, cereals, dairy products, snacks, seeds and plants, and non-alcoholic beverages.
However, there is also a list of things you cannot buy with your SNAP EBT benefits.
What Items Cannot Be Purchased With SNAP/EBT Benefits?
The following items may not be purchased with your benefits:
- Cigarettes or other tobacco products
- Wine, beer, spirits, or any other alcoholic drink
- Supplements. You can determine if something is considered a supplement and not a food item if you check the label. If the label on the product says, “Supplement Facts,” the product is not eligible under your benefits. Things considered supplements are protein powders, vitamins, and medications
- Hot food and drinks that are meant for consumption in the store
- Any live animals, such as lobster or other shellfish. The one exception is if the animal has recently been removed from the water
- Non-food items, such as personal products, cleaning supplies, and household supplies
How Can I Get a SNAP or EBT Card?
Getting an EBT card isn’t difficult. It’s a process of determining whether you’re eligible for SNAP or Food Stamps benefits. You need to be a resident of the United States and fall within the poverty line.
This will depend on the size of your household and the amount of monthly income you bring in. You can apply for SNAP/EBT benefits through your state’s assistance office.
If you’re eligible, you’ll become a SNAP recipient and receive a card in the mail that will be loaded each month with your allotted amount.
You can then use your card to purchase food and other approved items at participating stores.
You can use your SNAP/EBT benefits at some licensed Starbucks but not corporate locations. You can use your benefits to purchase some things at Starbucks, except for hot foods and drinks.
Your EBT card carries many perks, some of which include a yummy Starbucks treat!
Save Money on Your Wireless Phone Service
If you qualify for Food Stamps or SNAP, you may also be eligible for Lifeline or the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Lifeline and ACP are government-run programs that help low-income consumers receive free or heavily discounted communication services.
Click here to find out more and apply for this valuable benefit.